Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Khimki on the road 77-69 to move to 5-3 in Euroleague play with Barcelona up next in Spain. Pierre Jackson starred for the Yellow & Blue with 19 points and 6 assists, as Michael Roll shot well from the floor going 4/6 from 2 and 2/2 from 3 for 14 points while Norris Cole and Jonah Bolden each dropped 10 points in the win. Alexei Shved led the hosts with 21 points and Thomas Robinson recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds for Khimki. Maccabi came out strong and took a 28-19 lead after the opening 10 minutes but then fell back to earth by the half up by only 3, 42-39. After falling behind in the 3rd quarter, Head Coach Neven Sphaija called a crucial timeout that led Maccabi to a 20 point frame to go up 62-55 after thirty minutes and never looked back to take the 8-point win in Russia.
1) Maccabi led 42-39 at the half but after only scoring 4 points over the first 4:50 of the 3rd quarter they went down 50-46 and Coach Neven Soahija called a timeout. A timeout that probably saved the game. OUT – Tyus (2/8 from the field), DiBartolomeo, Jackson. IN – Segev, Kane, Cole. DeAndre Kane rattled off 4 points to tie up the contest, Roll hit a 3 pointer and Cole dropped the next 2 points and that was that as Maccabi took a 62-55 lead into the final frame. A great timeout by the Croatian mastermind. Segev played a terrific 21+ minutes and started the game, Roll was strong over the second half of the 3rd quarter with 8 points while Cole provided leadership and drive to help the Yellow & Blue to the win. Spahija gets high marks for the call and the players get all the credit for taking care of business.
2) Pierre Jackson was fabulous scoring 19 points, dishing out 6 assists, grabbing 4 boards and stealing 4 balls and fearlessly drove to the basket causing problems for the Khmiki defense. When Maccabi needed a bucket Jackson was there. Be it in the first quarter when he dropped 8 points or in the 4th when he scored the last 4 to seal the deal. It was good to see Spahija leaving Jackson out on the floor and allowing him to do what he does best. #55 wasn’t happy when he was yanked in the 3rd quarter against EFES on Tuesday and expressed that to me in the lockerroom, not understanding why he was taken out. I questioned Spahija at the post game press conference and he said that this was not a game that Jackson was going to be able to win for Maccabi himself and that they needed other players in the mix. Well tonight Jackson had a good supporting cast around him and he was critical in the victory. After watching Mody Maor let Kalin Lucas help Jerusalem win their EuroCup game against Lietkabelis I was even more convinced that Jackson needed to stay in the game on Tuesday, Well tonight he did.
3) The Maccabi centers, Tyus, Parakhouski and Segev had a rough night in Moscow combining for a grand total of 9 points on 3/12 from the field. Tyus was the main culprit going only 2/8 with one bucket coming as time expired. I’m not worried about Tyus other than he may be a bit injured as #9 is a high flyer and knows how to score and Segev played phenomenal defense earning the coach’s confidence over the past couple of weeks. It’s Parakhouski that worries me. The big man played under 6 minutes and was yet again ineffective offensively and sluggish overall. He has a presence in the paint, no question but he’s got to give Maccabi a bit more than that. However, I’m not sure there is anyone else out there if Maccabi even wants to replace him and that’s why Segev is getting some playing time. Spahija asked for patience at the start of the season, especially when it comes to the Israeli players and now we see exactly why. Segev may end up playing a much bigger role this campaign than anyone thought.
Maccabi beating Khimki on the road and raising their record to 5-3 was key after falling at home to EFES with another game away from the friendly confines of Yad Eliyahu in Barcelona next week. The Yellow & Blue could have theoretically been 4-5 with 3 straight losses, but due to the team’s fine play in Russia they now sit at 5-3 with a chance to move to 6-3 if they can win in Spain. Coach Spahija said after the game that his squad showed, “Mental toughness, effort and personality.” He also said that all in all, “This game was our best game on the road.” Why? Because the Maccabi defense was squaring causing Khimki to cough the ball up 20 (!) times with Alexey Shved leading the way with 7 of his own. Pierre Jackson spoke about clamping down on Shved who although scored 21 points in 36 minutes, was a main culprit in the Moscow based team’s defeat, “[Shved] is a great scorer. He can score in multiple ways. Our job tonight was just to throw a lot of defenders at him and make him shoot tough shots. I believe [our defense can be better], but playing against a tough team like that that can score so well, they gave us their all and we did a good job.” Amen.